Your Name On A Grain of Rice

Album: Americano! (2004)

Songfacts®:

  • At many carnivals and other tourist attractions in the US, you can have your name written on a grain of rice for a small fee. It's pretty typical in Mexico, where Clyne went on a songwriting trip. Says Roger: "There'll be street vendors or beach-walking vendors who will carry around a sign that says, 'Your name on a grain of rice.' You can tell them what to write and they'll do it. They can write the word 'Mississippi' on a grain of rice, and then they'll put it in a little vial filled with oil, add some small seashells, and give it to you as a necklace for $6.00 or something like that. I didn't want to haggle."
  • Clyne: "I was in self-sequesterment. Sometimes the noise of daily modern American life can distract me, actually quite easily, from the writing process. It's hard for me to walk by a computer without checking e-mail or going to Ebay, and the phone rings a lot here. I ran into a couple of writer's speed bumps, not full-on writer's block, but I packed my bags and headed south at the behest and request of my wife, because she was asking, 'How's the writing going?' I was getting pretty cranky, because it wasn't very fruitful, so I got an ATM card and a brown bag full of 20s and took off. It's interesting, as soon as you leave what you love, how much more you miss it."
  • Clyne: "The United States was ramping up to the war with Iraq, and going across the border to my old familiar stomping grounds in Mexico was a different experience there, because everybody was casting a pretty harsh eye on the gringos down there because of what our government was doing. Like it or not, we are a reflection of that, and I was sitting in the cantina where there were a couple of televisions on. One of them was CNN and another one was a Mexican station, and they were reporting the same events, the initial bombing of Baghdad, with incredibly disparate views, and that was really strange. So the fighter planes tearing across the desert sky, don't know whether to curse them or cheer them on is largely about being torn. We're taught to believe that America is the good guys, be the proper patriot 100% of the time and back your leaders. And then what was going on, frankly, I had a big problem with it. So I tried to put it in there without being preachy. I didn't want to condemn anything. I don't believe that there's a solution in condemnation. You have to offer some sort of inspiration, explanation, before you can solve the problem. It felt great to come home to my family, I honestly felt a little safer getting across the border so I wasn't under so much scrutiny. But then again, I didn't know exactly what the home I was coming home to was. I mean, the country home. It seemed awful aggressive, and very, very imperial. It seemed we had lost compassion and track of the truth." (Get more in our Roger Clyne interview. His website is azpeacemakers.com.)

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